Hermes Eau des Merveilles & Parfum des Merveilles fragrances

Hermes Eau des Merveilles perfume advert

Hermès launched Eau des Merveilles in 2004. The fragrance was created by perfumers Ralf Schwieger and Nathalie Feisthauer, and has notes of elemi, bitter orange, Italian lemon, Indonesian pepper, pink pepper, ambergris accord, oak, cedar, vetiver, balsam of Peru and tears of Siam. Eau des Merveilles, or Water of Wonders, was said to have been inspired by ambergris:

"For me, ambergris is a magical material," said Givaudan's perfumer Ralf Schwieger...He explained that it reminds him of the biblical tale of Jonah and the whale, where the prophet was swallowed alive.

"Ambergris has so many facets -- ambery, woody, dark, a salty-sweet concoction with [notes of] ink and tobacco. My idea was to re-create it in my way," he said. (Women's Wear Daily, 12/12/2003)

Fittingly, the finished product has a definite undertone of salty seawater, and without smelling in the least like Sel de Vetiver, has that same salt-drying-on-the-skin quality. The opening is peppery, with lots of sparkling orange, but the deeper amber and wood notes are present from the start and they remain as the orange slowly fizzles out.

Eau des Merveilles is an Eau de Toilette, and it has a soft, almost transparent presence. When it first came out, I tried it and thought it was just fine but not something I needed to own. Wearing it all this week has changed my mind: it has considerable personality despite the transparency, and it has a kind of understated elegance that is very much in keeping with the Hermès aura. There is something indefinably sexy about the dry down, and several times while wearing it this week I forgot what I had sprayed on and marvelled at how wonderful I smelled.

Sexy, yes, but feminine? I'm not so sure. Cosmetics International notes that "while many fragrances use wood and amber notes in their base, Eau Des Merveilles places an emphasis on these 'masculine' accents straightaway, without compromising its femininity." (2/1/2004) Well, it certainly doesn't smell at all too masculine for a woman to wear (although a quick perusal of the reviews at MakeupAlley indicate that at least some women disagree with me on that point) but there is nothing particularly feminine about it to my nose, and I'm rather surprised it isn't marketed as a unisex. Do comment if you disagree.

Parfum des Merveilles

Parfum des Merveilles came out in 2005, and has notes of oak, patchouli, mosses, amber, balsam of Peru, tears of Siam, davana, cognac note, leaves and roots. As you would expect, Parfum des Merveilles is a denser, more concentrated fragrance. It retains the citrus but tones down the sparkle and amps up the woods and amber. There is more earthiness, and noticeably more patchouli. The cognac note gives it a late fall kind of feeling that is quite different from the summery trail of Eau des Merveilles. It is very much worth trying if you want a stronger version of the original, but I prefer the more subtle Eau des Merveilles.

Note: images via Images de Parfums.

Tomorrow: Hermès Elixir des Merveilles


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47 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I've been such a complete unknown quantity to myself lately, as far as perfumes go! I was lukewarm about Eau des Merveilles when it first came out, but LOVED it when I tried it again a couple of weeks ago. It still didn't quite reach the must have level, though. I'm wondering if the perfume version would. Btw, I thought Insolence smelled EXACTLY like watered-down l'Heure Bleue! I gather the drydown is more distinctive, but I had too many other things on my arm as the day wore on to know.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am a man, obviously :-) and I LOVE Eau des Merveilles. It is such a gorgeous scent! I too find nothing overtly feminine about it, well maybe only the sweetness, but then many men's scents I know are WAY sweeter. I adore its saltiness and the way orange swirls out of woodsy, salty amber. Would love to try the Parfum for its darker interpretation, as well as Ellena's gourmand Elixir.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I tried this the other day and my man loved it, he loved the freshness and the citrus in it. If he loves it I don't. I'm looking for fresh in my pantyliners and deodorant, not in my fragrance. I want sex and warmth and yumminess. I never let him go to the fragrance counter for me anymore, we're just not on the same page in this dept. and that's okay. But I must admit the elixir sounds like something I'd own in a heartbeat, and I just might let him buy for me!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Pantyliners and deodorant” made me laugh so loud I have just scared my puppy out of the room, poor little thing, but I just know exactly what you mean. I get bored quickly by anything too citrus or fresh, I don`t think they suit me at all. Thankfully my boyfriend and I share the same sort of tastes in scent, just aswell because I`m always covered in it! I don`t really remember anything about these Hermes, I think I thought they were ok but I do remember my Mum fell in love with EDM straight away. I`m still laughing about pantyliners! I think it`s because I say knickers and pantyliners just seems like a funny word. How childish am I!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love Eau des Merveilles, but I LOVE Parfum des Merveilles :-) Salty-sweet is such a great description for these scents. I wonder what Elixir is going to be like. The rather unhelpful person at hermes.com told me it will be “just like” Eau des >, only in EDP concentration. And yet the notes are quite different.

  6. Anonymous says:

    L, sounds like we did the same about-face.

    Insolence as watered down LHB isn't totally off-base. That isn't an all bad thing though, is it? It is sooo much better than I expected.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Do try the parfum, it certainly isn't any more feminine than the EdM, and maybe less so. I can't decide.

    I find EdM only minimally sweet — certainly less so, as you say, than many men's, and very much less so than most women's.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Really, you don't find any sex & warmth even in the dry down? I don't find it as “fresh” as all that…certainly doesn't remind me of pantyliners, LOL…but it isn't a deeply warm scent. And totally agree — I don't let anyone shop for me!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Knickers is even funnier to my ears :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Figures you'd like the PdM better, M, what with all that nasty patchouli, LOL…

    The Elixir is certainly closer to the EdM than to the PdM.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes. I failed to be captivated the first few times, because I was too busy swooning over Sur Le Nil, etc. Somehow I never gave it a chance to really register on my skin.
    I doused myself earlier this summer and realized what I'd been missing. I'm thinking the PdM might disappoint, given how much I enjoy that lightness. But you never know.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Oh, thank goodness I'm not alone! LaureAnne, I tested Insolence a few weeks back and totally agree with you: It does smell like a watered down version of L'Heure Bleue. In fact, my nickname for Insolence is “L'Heure Bleue, Jr.”! :)

    Hugs!

  13. Anonymous says:

    M, I am still swooning over Sur Le Nil since buying the body lotion. It is great stuff, and now I want to see if EdM is sold in a lotion.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Like M, I love the Eau and LOVE the parfum. I just tried the elixir, though, and didn't like it as much. It was less salty, more sweet; they seem to have added chocolate-covered orange peel. Too sweet/ gourmand for my tastes, anyway. Will be interested in seeing what you think later today.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don't like it as well either…but wonder if it will sell better? Would love to know…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Making a gourmand out of Eau des Merveilles just seems so plain… wrong. I can't picture it. EdM is one of my top three fragrances (I'm male) and will never ever be without a bottle, but I'm quite skeptic about that new rendition in Elixir.

    Can't wait to get me some Parfum des Merveilles though, I feel it is something I definately have to complement my collection with. Oh my, the sheer beauty of EdM intensified…

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well, it seems wrong to me but I suppose in some respects the outcome is better than it could have been. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing more variations on EdM though…

  18. Anonymous says:

    R, It's one of my favorites perfumes and I think it has a very good sillage. It makes me feel elegant and clean, and, despite the softness, it's warm and woody. I agree it's not so feminine that a man couldn't wear (and I don't feel confortable with this idea). :)

  19. Anonymous says:

    It really is a great scent, and as I said above, I wouldn't mind seeing more variations even though I didn't love the Elixir des Merveilles they did last year.

  20. Anonymous says:

    In the late 60's/early 70's I bought a small vial of Ambergris essence oil at a tiny shop in Belmont Shores, CA. I had never smelled anything like it, nor had I ever heard of ambergris–but I was entranced by the smell of it. My mother had a an aversion to perfume…gave her headaches. (Unfortunately for her, my older sister adored Youth Dew!) Upon my telling her what the shop owner had revealed about the source of ambergris, she renamed my new purchase “whale sweat”. Oh but I loved it and used up every last drop. I don't suppose I'll ever find anything quite like it again…but I wonder if I should try one of these Hermes scents. Or might there be other ambergris-based perfumes I should try?

  21. Anonymous says:

    You can still buy real ambergris. Here is some possibilities:

    http://www.tigerflag.com/madini_ambergris.html

    http://www.profumo.it/perfume/prodotto.asp?pid=163

    Caswell Massey also makes a synthetic substitute which is cheaper.

    Eau des Merveilles is a VERY light scent. You might like it (I think it is fabulous) but I'm not sure it will recall your original experience with the ambergris essesnce.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I stopped by the Hermes store today to try the the Eau des Merveilles. The young women at the counter showed me the Eau des, the Parfum des, and the Elixir des as well. They insisted that all three of the fragrances were exactly the same notes presented in three intensities. (They were so elegantly dressed and perfectly coiffed that I dared not question their assurance.)
    Can you inform me better, before I return to the shop, what are the differences between these three?

  23. Anonymous says:

    No, the salesperson was quite mistaken. You can see the notes for the first 2 above, and for Elixir here:

    http://www.nstperfume.com/blog/_archives/2006/9/8/2305980.html

  24. Anonymous says:

    Dana Vigilante responded – I recently purchased this fragrance. Loved it in the store, but then when I got home, I really wasn't all that sure. I'm still not sure, but I will say this – guys constantly tell me that I smell incredible.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps it will grow on you then. Or try the newer Elixir des Merveilles, perhaps you'll like it better?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Eau des Merveilles Constellation is also very intersting. Not like anything I've tried sofar. At a certain moment I smelled liquorice..It certainly doesn't put me off but don't fall for it either. Maybe have to try this one for some days in a row…

  27. Anonymous says:

    According to Hermes, Constellation is just a limited edition bottle of Merveilles (e.g., same juice, different bottle).

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, good that you mentioned that. Why on earth would Hermes put the same juice in a blue bottle instead of an orange one? Anyway I'm going back tomorrow to give it another try. The orange bottle that's being sold here is Elixir des Merveilles.

    I did not really like Elixir d.M. Must have been the chocolate note..

    Eau des Merveilles still smells good on my hand and it seems to last nicely. Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is vanished within four hours, at least on my skin. I really love it but would heve preferred it as an EdP.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I think the blue and the orange E.d. Merveilles are slightly different. Compared the two on osmoz.fr. Will try to find the Eau d.M. in orange somewhere. Want to try them both but do hope you are right.

    Constellation smells also a bit like leather to my nose. Very nice.

    JCE gives us a hard time with so many delights for the nose ;)

  30. Anonymous says:

    I did check w/ Hermes, they say it is the same juice. I see no reason to disbelieve them, after all, if it was a new juice, I assume they'd be doing something to promote it. They did a special bottle the year before also, the Pegasus bottle.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Wanted to try “something oldfashioned” today and ended up trying 24 Fauburg. Don't try this one if you are not longing for the type of scents from the '80s!! It is a frag. from 1995 but smells as heavy as they came in the '80s.

    It is very classy but a scrubber for me!

  32. Anonymous says:

    It is not a light scent :-)

  33. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Eau des Merveilles is more masculine than feminine.It should have been a unisex fragrance.For me personally it's a very spicy fragrance.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if lots of men wore it — and if not, they should :-)

  35. Anonymous says:

    I bought Eau des Merveilles unsniffed after reading this review, and I absolutely love it!! and I love the warmth of the dry-down. As I am absolutely new to perfume, can you please please please kindly make a few suggestion for me? Perfume that evoke warmth and sexiness, that I would like to wear when I am going to bed, that I can get lost in the smell that wrapped me warm and sexily, I live in a tropical country and I keep my room at about 75°F. [ and I got no access to niche perfume except for annick goutal or creed, and can only wear summer perfume during the day, guess that's a way to save me money :-( ] I am a huge fan of this blog and would like to say thank you to everyone of this blog, I learned a lot from you guys, thanks :-D

  36. Anonymous says:

    forgot to mention that I am not really a fan of vanilla :-)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Jolie, I don't know how many people are still reading comments on this article so you might do better to apply to be the subject of a Monday Mail article:

    http://www.nstperfume.com/blog/_WebPages/MondayMail.html

  38. Anonymous says:

    ok :-)

  39. Veronika says:

    Sometimes I think that I should give up my collection and stick to this one. Eau for everyday weather, Elixir on very cold days and the Parfum on special occasions. Generous limited editions would still provide me with the ability to hunt, but I will have the signature st last:)
    It’s so perfect. The name. The house. The bottle. Even the story: I like that it’s not about love or broken hearts or art of seduction – its magical material and a wale:) It’s not Top 10 selling. J sur le Nil is even more popular. And it is modern: no one would say I smell like his grandmother, neither would I wonder if I actually like it or do I wear this because some famous woman like Audrey Hepburn or Catherine Deneuve lived and breathed in it.
    And there are lots of bathroom products in the line, so won’t bother about that part either.
    Sweet dreams:)
    I just read this review probably the 20th time.
    And I can’t understand this paradox: I became interested in perfume to find my signature, to find my hg. This one actually is. So what’s wrong with me? Is it like give up smoking? I’m afraid of what I will be missing instead of thinking about all the benefits… of not spending that much money:)

    • Robin says:

      Sounds like you’re possibly addicted to the hunt — but you know, there are way worse things to be addicted to!

  40. Haunani says:

    I’m trying this for the first time today, I don’t know why I waited so long, because I was pretty sure I’d be crazy about it. I love the sparkly-orange opening, and the dry woodsy ending, but what I really go for is all the salt in the middle! Eau de M is not sweet on me — not in the least, and though I feel right at home in it, I would place it slightly masculine of unisex. It is marvelous indeed, and I am happy.

    • Robin says:

      Isn’t it a great scent? I’ve hardly worn it this summer — I’ll have to pull out my bottle.

  41. Iris says:

    I love this scent. During the summer, I thought it was definitely a summer fragrance, because it reminds me of sun on skin and saltwater breeze. Now that it’s cold, the spiciness is more noticeable and it has a warming quality. I think maybe it’s even better in the winter. At first sniff, I worried that it would be too masculine, but as the scent develops, the woodsy warm citrus is exactly what makes it work. I often have trouble with fragrances coming across too sweet on me, too candied and cloying. Eau des Merveilles is a great option if you have a similar body chemistry.

  42. Veronika says:

    I don’t remember where I saw discussion about oakmoss, but someone asked If Eau des Merveilles contained this material.
    Pure Parfum lists oakmoss amoung the ingredients on the packadge.

  43. smilla says:

    I return to this scent now and again. Maybe the best way how to describe it: it always hit me the same way the song from Black – Wonderful Life does. Today I got a new bottle for upcoming spring and summer season :) Lots of greetings to all Merveilles lovers! Btw, I have tried Claire as well as Elixir and I must agree with Robin that the Eau is the best version.

  44. AndrewT says:

    I agree with Robin that this is very unisex, but I’ll have to turn the question in the review “sexy, yes, but feminine?” into: “unisex, yes, but sexy?”
    I would say, not so much, but this is a guy’s perspective after all, and we can be oh-so-predictable when it comes to these kind of things :-)

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